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Game Review #466: Romancing SaGa 3 (Nintendo Switch)

Updated: Jan 21, 2020

Reviewer: WoodmanFLG

Developer: Square Enix

Publisher: Square Enix

Category: jRPG

Release Date: 11.11.2019

Price: $28.99 (Digital) } $44.99 (Physical)


Buy Romancing SaGa 3 from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy the Asia English physical release from Playasia here. (Save 5% with code SWITCHMANIA)

A Long-Running Saga

I love the SaGa games… mostly! There are a few stinkers here and there—mostly the post-PS1 attempts at the series—but overall, it’s a very unique and beloved franchise of jRPGs that is made by the titans of the genre: Square.

Before the PS1 entry, SaGa Frontier, the series never had a release under the SaGa name in America, and the PS1 game really bought a lot of attention to the series. A lot of people sought out translation patches to play Romancing Saga 2 and 3 on emulators. The games Final Fantasy Legend 1, 2 and 3 are also actually SaGa games—and feature many of the same kind of mechanics—but Romancing Saga 1-3 for the Super Nintendo is when the series started to really draw attention. I actually own a reproduction copy of Romancing Saga 3 that is translated, and works on an American Super Nintendo, if that says anything about how much I love this series.

The SaGa series tends to share a few major elements between entries, major elements being its early version of an open world, multiple selectable characters, and the system used in battle to learn new techniques! Let's talk a little more about Romancing SaGa 3 and the upgrades it has received with this HD remaster!

8 Heroes, 8 Stories

Romancing Saga 3 is set in a world where, every 300 years, an event happens that basically means that everyone born that year will die before it's over; but eventually, there was a time where a sole child survived the cataclysmic event and went on to grow powerful. One day, however, he vanished without a word, and no one knew what had happened to him. 300 years later, another child was able to live through the event, and she came to be known as the Matriarch. It has been around 300 years since the last event, and the world is on edge waiting for the next disaster. Will another child rise up against all odds and live through this cataclysm, or will fate not be defied?

Well, we have 8 different characters with different stories; although, some of them come from similar backgrounds, so there is the occasional overlap, but that just gives you more appreciation as you progress and see the full picture the game presents with its story! We have Julian, Sarah, Thomas, and Ellen, who are all settlers, then Mikhail, Monica, and Katharina, who are all from Loanne Castle, and lastly, Harid, who is a mercenary better known by his alias, Tornado! Each of these characters have their own set of events, story, bosses, and more, in addition, some other characters are only recruitable by certain main characters. In this game, you are definitely nudged along to try and beat the game with every character in order to get the full story.

Sparking A New Way of Thinking

Combat is turn-based, with you having a party of up to 5 active characters to fight a variety of monsters, people, demons, and more! Getting stronger isn’t done in the traditional jRPG sense of just gaining experience points and leveling up, instead using one of the series’ main elements of gaining stat points based on performance in battle. Taking hits? Your HP will go up. Using lots of techniques with a sword? Your sword skill and SP will go up, so you hit harder and can use more powerful techniques more often. Even moreso, using weapons in battle will cause you to spark a new technique, which can turn the tide of battle and lead to even stronger moves.

You can also learn magic, which consists of multiple different schools of magic that each generally have an opposite school from which you can’t learn any magic. Think of it like a fire mage couldn't learn water magic, essentially. When it comes to sparking techniques, sometimes using advanced techniques has a better chance to spark a specific skill than just attacking normally. Your characters are healed after every battle, but if you fall in battle, you will lose a Life Point. If you run out of those, you will be unable to use the character for a time. This combat system is very rewarding, and there’s not much else like the feeling when you spark a super strong technique at the perfect time, saving your butt!

The SaGa Special

The SaGa series has a quirk where you can’t always grind to overcome something, sometimes you really do have to take a little bit, back up, and revisit areas to find new equipment, or maybe a different objective. Being that the game is very light on healing magic and such, your job is to figure out how to do the most damage output in an encounter, while minimizing the damage you take per round when it comes to strong foes. Weaker ones are nice, because you heal all your damage after the battle is over, so unless you use a lot of WP or SP, or you lose an LP, random encounters are 90% good for you, so don’t be afraid to fight! This remake features some awesome new additions, like a new dungeon, as well as animation for some battle sprites being improved in battle effects. The visuals really do look great, and anyone who’s played the OG version will find this breathes new life into a classic that launched a series!

Wrapping Up

Romancing SaGa 3 is a fantastic remaster of a beloved game, and with this, it’s the first official way we have to play this game in English that doesn’t involve a little bit of legal grey area, and I couldn’t be happier for people to get to experience this game. If you find yourself enjoying this, FIND A WAY TO PLAY SAGA FRONTIER on PS1, because I feel that is the SaGa formula fully realized, and at its best! RS3 is a great jRPG that can show its age here and there in the mechanics and design, but it’s still a massive game packing hundreds of possible hours in it, for less than $30! I give Romancing SaGa 3, a super solid 8.5/10, which is special, because I never add the .5, but it just REALLY deserved it!

Score: 8.5/10

Buy Romancing SaGa 3 from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Buy the Asia English physical release from Playasia here. (Save 5% with code SWITCHMANIA)

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*A game code was provided for review purposes

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